Sum­mer sun safety Keep skin healthy and re­duce skin cancer risk

Walker County Messenger - - News -

Spend­ing time out­doors can put you at risk for skin cancer – the most com­mon cancer in Amer­ica ac­cord­ing to the Amer­i­can Cancer So­ci­ety – if you don’t take steps to pro­tect your­self.

That doesn’t mean you have stay in­doors. “You can en­joy be­ing out­side. Just be smart about it,” says Deanna Brown, M.D., der­ma­tol­o­gist with Su­song Der­ma­tol­ogy and on staff at CHI Me­mo­rial. Dr. Brown says there is no such thing as a ‘healthy’ tan. “The color of the skin you were born with is the best color for you – it’s the best shade you can be.”

How much sunscreen should I use?

Most peo­ple use less than half of the amount of sunscreen they ac­tu­ally need. Ap­ply­ing the cor­rect amount will pro­tect you from burns as well as sun dam­age like wrin­kles and brown spots as you age. Ev­ery time you put sunscreen on, you should use: · 1 ta­ble­spoon for your face · 1 ounce (about the size of the palm of your hand) to cover the rest of your body

Is the sunscreen spray as good as the lo­tion?

Sticks, lo­tions or creams are best. It’s harder to mea­sure the amount of spray you’ve ap­plied and know when you get to the point where you have enough. With that said, I al­ways tell peo­ple the best type of sunscreen is the one you will use again and again. The spray is of­ten eas­ier to use with chil­dren. You just need to reap­ply reg­u­larly to make sure they are ad­e­quately pro­tected.

What should I look for when buy­ing sunscreen?

You should look at three things when buy­ing sunscreen.

1. Broad-spec­trum pro­tec­tion – This in­di­cates the sunscreen pro­tects against UVA and UVB rays.

2. Sun Pro­tec­tion Fac­tor (SPF) – I rec­om­mended sunscreen with an SPF be­tween 30 and 50. This range will fil­ter out 97-98 per­cent of UV rays. Any­thing higher than 50 SPF doesn’t of­fer much more pro­tec­tion.

3. Water re­sis­tance – Sunscreen is not wa­ter­proof, just water re­sis­tant. It will be la­beled as ei­ther 40 or 80 minute. The terms “sweat­proof”, “wa­ter­proof” & “sun­block” are no longer al­lowed by the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion (FDA).

When should I put on sunscreen?

The first ap­pli­ca­tion should be 15 min­utes be­fore go­ing out­side. That means put it on be­fore you leave the house. You need to reap­ply ev­ery two hours (one ta­ble­spoon for your face and one ounce for the rest of your body), or sooner if you are swim­ming or sweat­ing (check water re­sis­tant time listed on bot­tle).

I have sunscreen left­over from last year. Is it safe to use?

A bot­tle of sunscreen will go quickly when you use the cor­rect amounts and reap­ply as rec­om­mended. If you do have a bot­tle you haven’t used in a while, fol­low these guide­lines from the Amer­i­can Academy of Der­ma­tol­ogy (AAD):

· The FDA re­quires all sun­screens re­tain their orig­i­nal strength for at least three years.

· Some sun­screens in­clude an ex­pi­ra­tion date. If the ex­pi­ra­tion date has passed, throw out the sunscreen.

· If you buy a sunscreen that does not have an ex­pi­ra­tion date, write the date you bought the sunscreen on the bot­tle. That way, you’ll know when to throw it out.

· You also can look for vis­i­ble signs the sunscreen may no longer be good. Any ob­vi­ous changes in the color or con­sis­tency of the prod­uct mean it’s time to pur­chase a new bot­tle.

What are other ways to pro­tect my skin be­sides us­ing sunscreen reg­u­larly?

We live in a beau­ti­ful area, full of out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. The goal is limit as much UV ex­po­sure as pos­si­ble while still en­joy­ing be­ing out­side.

· Stay in the shade when pos­si­ble.

· Limit your time out­side be­tween 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. when UV rays are the strong­est. Plan your ex­er­cise or out­door ac­tiv­i­ties for early morn­ing or late af­ter­noon if pos­si­ble.

· Use UV pro­tec­tive cloth­ing. Sev­eral com­pa­nies now make a va­ri­ety of lightweight cloth­ing, swim wear and ac­ces­sories that pro­tect against UV ex­po­sure, even when it’s wet.

· Wear a broad-rim hat, with at least a two to three inch brim. The broad-rim will help pro­tect your ears, face, scalp and neck. Ball caps do not pro­tect your ears or neck – two com­mon places skin cancer is found.

· Sun­glasses of­fer UV pro­tec­tion too, pro­tect­ing the eyes and the del­i­cate skin around them. The ACS rec­om­mends sun­glasses that block 99 to 100 per­cent of UV rays. Look for la­bels that say “UV ab­sorp­tion up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Re­quire­ments”.

· Re­mem­ber your lips. Skin cancer also can form on the lips so re­mem­ber to ap­ply a lip balm or lip­stick that con­tains sunscreen with an SPF 30 or higher.

The AAD es­ti­mates one in five Amer­i­cans will de­velop skin cancer in their life­time. Melanoma is the dead­li­est form of skin cancer. Melanoma cases in the US dou­bled from 1982 to 2011. Melanoma is the sec­ond most com­mon form of cancer in fe­males age 15-29, ac­cord­ing to the ACS.

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